Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
In the lane:
Lock door, Hogs fans all over!
Fans call the hogs during the second half Saturday night at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.
LITTLE ROCK Alabama A&M Coach Willie Hayes didn’t expect to see so many fans in Verizon Arena on Saturday night when the Bulldogs played Arkansas in North Little Rock.
“We thought because the game was here instead of Fayetteville that the crowd wouldn’t be so big,” Hayes said. “But we were wrong about that.
“I wish somebody had locked the doors before so many of the Arkansas fans got in here.”
The Razorbacks beat the Bulldogs 95-68 before an announced crowd of 9,760. Not near the arena’s capacity, but a lot for a game against a Southwestern Athletic Conference team on the weekend before Christmas.
“It just seemed like there was extra energy in the building and our guys fed off of it,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “When you come to Little Rock, it’s an event, and I was glad to see our guys come out and really play well in a lot of different facets of the game.”
Anderson noted that fans called the Hogs in a restaurant where the Razorbacks had dinner Friday night, which also got the players excited.
“Arkansas is unique place, and the fans are really, really passionate,” Anderson said. “This is a shoutout to all the fans here in Little Rock — we appreciate you guys showing up, and not only showing up, but showing out. It was a great atmosphere.”
Arkansas freshman forward Jacorey Williams was among the Razorbacks who played in Verizon Arena for the first time.
“The crowd had everybody excited,” Williams said. “I feel like everybody from the first player to the last player was excited to play in front of the crowd. Everybody seemed really pumped up.”
Arkansas scored 24 points off 18 turnovers by Alabama A&M.
“It wasn’t the full-court press that bothered us, it was in the half-court,” Bulldogs Coach Willie Hayes said. “They’ve got active hands and got a lot of deflections.”
Razorbacks junior guard Kikko Haydar drew two charges against Alabama A&M, giving him a teamhigh six on the season.
Vs. the SWAC
The Razorbacks improved to 42-0 against Southwestern Athletic Conference teams in their first meeting with Alabama A&M. Arkansas has played seven of the 10 SWAC schools and is 12-0 against Jackson State, 7-0 against Alabama State, 6-0 against Texas Southern, 5-0 against Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley State and Grambling State and 1-0 against Prairie View A&M. The Razorbacks beat Alcorn State 97-59 earlier this season.
Arkansas hasn’t played Arkansas-Pine Bluff because it doesn’t schedule games against in-state teams.
Arkansas junior guard Rickey Scott made his first start since the season opener and had 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal without a turnover in 17 minutes.
“That’s probably the most energy I’ve seen Rickey play with,” Coach Mike Anderson said. “I thought he played fantastic.”
Scott started in place of sophomore Ky Madden, who sustained an ankle injury in practice earlier this week and played just four minutes against Robert Morris University on Thursday night. Madden played 17 minutes off the bench Saturday night and had 8 points, 3 assists and 1 steal.
Up to 44
Arkansas junior guard Mardracus Wade made his 44th consecutive start Saturday night. He’s started every game since the start of last season. As a freshman, he had three starts and played off the bench in 28 games.
Alandise Harris, a former Little Rock Central standout, was back in Verizon Arena, where last season he had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots to help lead Houston to an 87-78 victory over the Razorbacks.
Harris was sitting on Arkansas’ bench in street clothes Saturday night. He’s redshirting this season after transferring from Houston. He’ll be a fourth-year junior next season.
R&B singer Brandon Richardson didn’t miss a beat singing the national anthem even when a buzzer sounded for several seconds in the middle of his rendition.
Sports, Pages 32 on 12/23/2012